In the last two weeks, we’ve welcomed three significant and positive developments to end the year.
Federal workplace protections
Firstly, the Commonwealth Parliament has passed reforms to the Fair Work Act that will enact missing protections on grounds of ‘intersex status’ as well as breastfeeding and gender identity. The government has also made a public commitment to enact reforms to update language in this Act and the Sex Discrimination Act (SDA) to change from ‘intersex status’ to ‘sex characteristics’. We thank Minister Tony Burke and parliamentary colleagues who helped to bring about this development, including Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus, and Andrew Wilkie and Stephen Bates. This implements a call for action to the new government that we published in May, and it follows almost a decade of advocacy by us, by Alastair Lawrie, and many others.
- Read our call for action
- We welcome Labor commitment to workplace protections and reform of the SDA
- Fair Work Legislation Amendment (Secure Jobs, Better Pay) Bill 2022
Anti-discrimination protections in the NT
Secondly, the Northern Territory Parliament has passed reforms to enact protections from discrimination on grounds of sex characteristics, for the first time. The legislation draws on our submission and offers protections to people with innate variations of sex characteristics for the first time in the jurisdiction. We are grateful for the engagement of the Attorney General’s office, and for the work of Chansey Paech, Attorney-General and Minister for Justice.
Anti-discrimination protections and more in Queensland
Finally, legislation has been introduced into the Queensland Parliament to update anti-discrimination legislation to remove offensive and inaccurate provisions relating to gender identity and provide meaningful protections from discrimination on grounds of sex characteristics:
sex characteristics, of a person, means the person’s physical features and development related to the person’s sex, and includes—
(a) genitalia, gonads and other sexual and reproductive parts of the person’s anatomy; and
(b) the person’s chromosomes, genes and hormones that are related to the person’s sex; and
(c) the person’s secondary physical features emerging as a result of puberty
The legislation will also lengthen the time available to parents before registering the birth of a child with an innate variation of sex characteristics, and implement improvements for transgender and gender diverse people, and for same sex parents. These include a demedicalised process and opt in declaration of sex. Thank you to Attorney-General Shannon Feniman and her staff for their engagement on these issues, and to the Queensland Human Rights Commission.
- Read our submission on reform of the Anti-Discrimination Act
- Births, Deaths and Marriages Registration Bill 2022 bill and explanatory notes
Together these contribute to nationally consistent legislation to protect people with innate variations of sex characteristics from discrimination.
Work in progress: towards regulation of harmful practices
Despite claims recently made by the WA government, action to eliminate conversion practices on grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity fails to address specific and profound human rights concerns with medical interventions affecting people with innate variations of sex characteristics, to make the bodies of children fit normative ideas about appearance and function.
- Read our 2021 submission on discrimination law in WA
- Read our 2022 submission on assisted reproductive technologies in WA
Welcome activity to address this issue continues in the ACT, where the government is developing a bill to protect the rights of people with innate variations of sex characteristics from harmful practices in medical settings.